Finch pushes Pearce's Blues Origin hopes

Former NSW halfback Brett Finch has warned Blues selectors not to forget Mitchell Pearce when it's time to pick playmakers for the State of Origin series opener.

Mitchell Pearce (pic) should remain NSW State of Origin halfback, according to Brett Finch.

Mitchell Pearce (pic) should remain NSW State of Origin halfback, according to Brett Finch.

The Blues' mainstay has almost become the forgotten man in the race for the halfback jersey, with Nathan Cleary, Luke Brooks, Luke Keary and Blake Green all floated as options to play alongside likely five-eighth James Maloney.

NSW have struggled to find a regular halves pairing during Queensland's era of dominance, having cycled through an astronomical 19 combinations in 12 years.

Pearce is easily the most-experienced player vying for selection this year in any position, having notched up 18 matches in that period but for just five wins.

But when quizzed on whether Pearce could go around again in 2018 for NSW, Finch was definite in his support.

"Of course he can go around again," Finch said while working alongside coach Brad Fittler at a junior NSW session.

"In my opinion, he is still the best halfback in NSW. I don't want to put any pressure on Pearcey - he is up there doing great things with Newcastle.

"But he's won a competition and I'm sure he would like to play for NSW again if he got the opportunity."

Aged 29, Pearce should be in his prime as a playmaker after debuting in 2008 for NSW as a 19-year-old.

But the ex-Sydney Rooster was considered likely to be left on the Origin scrapheap after last year's capitulation, taking his record to zero series wins from seven attempts.

"If Mitchell is a bit scarred, what about all those other blokes?" Finch argued.

"He's a hell of a competitor, Mitchell. The reason why we lost those games wasn't Mitchell's fault - it was a team effort.

"He's had to cop the brunt and blame for a lot of those which is extremely unfair but it's made him a better and stronger person."

Brooks' halves partner at the Wests Tigers - Benji Marshall - also endorsed his push for Origin selection.

The 23-year-old has been the hottest ticket in town this week, jumping to the top of the Dally M race after finally delivering on the potential that has been evident since his debut as a teenager.

"One thing I've noticed is he's really relaxed around the place. He's training with confidence and playing with confidence," Marshall said.

"That stuff's infectious and, if he did get an opportunity, I think he'd go great there - he wouldn't look out of place.

"Like (coach) Ivan (Cleary) said after the Manly game, he deserves to be talked about in that arena. At the same time, I want him to be great for us and not have that pressure. I hope he makes it."

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